March 24, 2012
Remind me why I ♥ my cats
Eleven o’clock Friday night. After a long, busy week, I’m tired and decide to skip the news and go upstairs to bed. Walk into the dressing room/great big closet, and there is Kelly upchuck on two of the throw rugs. (Thank goodness they’re washable, but more about that later.) I fold one up and put it at the top of the stairs, but the other rug will need to wait for morning as it’s partially covered by the floor fan, boxes of shoes, and an assortment of old clothes for the donation bin.
Aster joins me after I plop into bed. After a good rub-up, she stretches out next to my feet. I’m just drifting off when she pukes. On my leg. On the blanket. On the top sheet. Not quite finished, she walks to the middle of the left side of the bed where Bill sleeps and urks up about a quarter cup of brown liquid. I’m wide awake now, quickly turning on the light, grabbing tissues to scoop up the chucks of Whiskas crab dinner and strip the bed. The pile of mess at the top of the stairs has reached 2 feet high.
By the time that’s done, Aster’s last spew has seeped through into the mattress cover. It’s midnight. The other mattress cover is on the sleeper sofa in the living room; to get it requires moving furniture. Instead, I get a hand towel from the bathroom and place it over the wet spot, then stay awake until Bill comes to bed so I can explain that the towel is to cover kitty barf, not because I had sex with another man.
“Why is this laundry thing a problem?” you ask.
A week ago Saturday our clothes dryer died. Or we thought it died. When the Sears guy came last Thursday, we learned the machine wasn’t broken, but the 220 line is. Bill’s fairly handy around the house but he won’t go anywhere near electricity. He called the company which maintains our furnace and recently repaired the water heater for an electrician and was referred to another firm and a guy named Chris. He’ll be here Tuesday afternoon. Bill forgot to get either the company name or the phone number so if Chris doesn’t show, we’re screwed.
There are mountains of laundry on the basement floor, in baskets, on the chair by the utility sink. Two plus weeks of clothes, everything from the bed, and three rugs — Kelly tossed her cookies in the bathroom last Monday. Bill ran out of underwear today; I hate Walmart, but I’m glad it’s close.
If this Feline Vomit Fest had occurred last week, when the weather was hot and gloriously sunny, I could have hung the bedding outside to dry on the clothesline on consecutive days. But not today as it’s 62, overcast and thunderstorms are predicted. Or tomorrow, which will be 70 but rainy. Or Monday or Tuesday, two 40-50 degree days. Meanwhile, the linens are soaking in the washer, with a hearty dose of Shout! stain remover; I hope the material doesn’t break down during four days of soaking. I hope that the electrician can fix the 220 in one day. I hope the washer doesn’t conk out next. (Oh, I just cursed myself!)
Remind me again what Garrison Keillor said: “Cats are intended to teach us that not everything in nature has a purpose.”
Link of the Week:
Vegas hipster cat Bobby Darin sings “Come rain or come shine,” which I’m dedicating to my kitties.
February 5, 2012
Stand by your man?
When does a woman know? Consider Lori Dimora, wife of former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy, indicted on dozens of federal counts of corruption, bribery, conspiracy and running a criminal enterprise, along with using really foul language and being a gigantic slimeball. When did Lori know she married a pig? When did she realize the magnitude of his piggishness?
When the trial began, Lori walked arm-in-arm with Jimmy into the courtroom. I know the wife of a crook on trial for racketeering is advised to leave her Escada and Tiffany at home, but Lori appears to have taken the advice to the extreme, with unkempt hair and wearing what looks like a Walmart hoodie. She looks haggard, broken.
The first couple of weeks, she listened to testimony, mostly about money. The facts couldn’t have been all that new to her as she benefited from some of the dealings. Jimmy illegally used more than $3,600 in campaign contributions to pay for her 50th birthday party in 2006 at Landerhaven. Although Jimmy’s Commissioner salary was a reasonable $92,000/yr., they live in a 3,300 square-foot house in Independence — market value of $438,200. Plus there was that new television over the fireplace, an icemaker, new faucets in the kitchen and three bathrooms, a winterized sprinkler system, an outdoor cabana and bathroom, a poolside Tiki bar. One contractor said his company’s work was worth $60K. You have guys at your house doing such extensive remodeling, you’ve got to wonder how you’re paying for it, don’t you?
"We're gonna have these whores, so don't bring the girls from the office."
Jimmy Dimora to former Auditor Frank Russo
But when the testimony turned to sex, Lori was noticeably absent. What wife could remain serene while hearing that her husband traded sex for jobs, traded his influence for prostitutes, had numerous trysts in Cleveland-area hotels, and regular “Saturday night adventures” at the Stonebridge complex on the west bank of the Flats. Witnesses recounted conversations during which Jimmy, channeling Tony Soprano, discussed “broads,” “whores,” and "gumar," Italian slang for a mistress, who were brought to Cleveland from as far away as Florida. He talked about the women he’d had like they were car parts. "Get the one with the thing in her tongue."
What wife would not weep while learning the sordid details of trips to Vegas that weren’t just for the gambling. On a wiretap, Jimmy raved about one $1,000 hooker: "Yeah, she's good, a little chatty, but good....Thank you, though. It was excellent. Thank you, thank you."
Did Lori know? Jimmy inferred she did: "My wife’s just putting up with it."
I’d assume that when Lori Bissler, then a secretary at Stouffer’s in Solon, wed her high school sweetheart Jimmy Dimora in 1980, she believed, as do most brides, she had found her knight, that her future would be golden. Jimmy was a go-getter, gregarious, the guy who was friends with everyone and who everybody loved. He had already won his first election — a seat on the Bedford Heights City Council — and run and lost another, for mayor of Bedford Heights, a position he secured the next year at age 26. Jimmy and Lori celebrated with a trip to Las Vegas. He served four terms.
In 1992, Jimmy won a seat on the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections and served for six years. In 1994, he was elected chairman of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party. In 1998, elected Cuyahoga County Commissioner. Yes, Lori married an ambitious man on the move. They had two children. Life had to be good.
"All I need is like a queen-size bed."
When did Lori suspect that her husband had a roving eye? Did he flirt too much with the waitress? Was he too intimate with her friends? The hand on the arm, the pat on the butt? Did she watch him as he talked to a woman’s breasts? Did she, like so many others in his life, pass it off as “Jimmy being Jimmy”? Here’s the beginning of a story that ran in The Plain Dealer in June 1998:
Just in case they were wondering, Bedford Heights Mayor Jimmy Dimora assured 431 members of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Executive Committee on Valentine's Day that his sex life was just fine.
"Boy, do I feel good today," Dimora, party chairman, said in opening remarks to the Democratic faithful gathered for the party's endorsement meeting at the Holiday Inn in Independence. "My wife took good care of me this morning."
Somewhere, the woman married to the Italian Stallion of Bedford Heights had to be blushing. Out in the audience, women were cringing . . .
Yet, no one for a minute believed that Dimora's locker room braying belied a latent vein of disrespect for women. "He's no chauvinist pig," Cindy Marizette, co-executive director of the county Democratic Party, said this week. "That's just Jimmy."
Not a pig? Are you kidding?
A woman knows when her man is cheating. There’s his attitude toward you, the lies she wants to believe but questions despite herself. And there’s the smell of sex. The Dimoras most likely took Jimmy’s shirts and suits to a professional laundry, but there’s still underwear to wash.
When did she begin to suspect that when he came home reeking of Crown Royal and another woman’s perfume that the late night meeting wasn’t business? When the weekend getaways with the guys weren’t just about bonding? When did it go so wrong, so bad, it broke her?
"We're all going down together baby," Jimmy replied to Plumbers Local 55 head Robert Rybak in 2008. He could easily have said that to Lori.
December 4, 2011
I want my JTV.
I know whenever I’m stressed, depressed or blue because I get obsessed with watching the jewelry television channels. No glass bead necklaces or trendy ceramic watches are going to do it for me. And don’t show me washed-out tanzanite or flies encased in amber because I don’t care how old and rare it is.
I need to see sparkling diamonds and stunning gemstones to cheer me up. The 88 thousand dollar orange and white diamond earrings. The $39,000 “Princess Diana” sapphire and diamond ring. The Harry Winston-styled deep purple amethyst and vivid green peridot bracelet, once part of a Beverly Hills collection. And unusual gems: Demantoid Garnet, Copper-bearing Tourmaline, cushion cut Chrome Diopside, lustrous Imperial Topaz. The deeper, the richer the color, the better I feel.
I need to watch Kurt on Gem Shopping Network with his Gemological Institute of America certified fancy yellow diamonds, or Mike with his “if someone doesn’t buy this tonight, it’s going to a dealer” black and white Tahitian pearl necklace that was so red carpet, so incredibly beautiful, I drooled. I don’t want GSN’s Sue, with her “going to the bottom” prices on antiques and weird stuff like netsukes — miniature Japanese sculptures of Buddha, fishermen or monkeys — or kimonos and vases. I’ve learned to be skeptical of her bottom line as it’s never as generous as most of the other on-air hosts. A retail price of $25 thousand usually means the sale price will be around half or even a third.
So you know I am excited by the upcoming Christie’s sale of Elizabeth Taylor’s jewels. My oh my. Not only will there be a live auction (tickets on sale now), but also an internet-only sale of nearly 1,000 items, both jewelry and accessories like designer handbags. Christie’s estimates the final haul will net between 30 and 50 million dollars. A few of the showstoppers include the Prince of Wales diamond brooch, estimated at between $400,000 and half a million dollars, a ruby and diamond ring by Van Cleef & Arpels, and an emerald and diamond Bulgari necklace, both estimated at between $1 million and $1.5 million.
Now Liz was a stunning woman, especially in her youth, but I want to know how did she catch the rich husbands she caught who bought her so many baubles? I mean, really, she was married 8 times to 7 men:
- Conrad "Nicky" Hilton (May 6, 1950-January 29, 1951), one of the sons of the founder of Hilton Hotels, who she divorced;
- English actor Michael Wilding (February 21, 1952-January 26, 1957), who Liz probably found boring as he was 20 years her senior;
- Movie producer Michael Todd (February 2, 1957-March 22, 1958), one of the 3 loves of her life, along with Richard Burton and jewelry. He died;
- Eddie Fisher (May 12, 1959-March 6, 1964), who Liz stole from Debbie Reynolds and divorced;
- Welsh actor Richard Burton (March 15, 1964-June 26, 1974 and October 10, 1975-July 29, 1976), who must have been crazy, and crazy about her to marry her twice. When he first saw Liz, he said, "She was unquestionably gorgeous. I can think of no other word to describe a combination of plenitude, frugality, abundance, tightness. She was lavish. She was a dark unyielding largesse. She was, in short, too bloody much." Wowza.
- John Warner (December 4, 1976-November 7, 1982), a Republican senator from Virginia. From the sublime of Burton to the ridiculous of Warner to divorce.
- And God help us, the last, Larry Fortensky (October 6, 1991-October 31, 1996), who Liz married at Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch. What was she thinking?
Using the high school part of my brain, let’s say Liz was very popular. She also had romances with a number of other men, like Heisman Trophy winner Glenn Davis, the son of U.S. Ambassador to Brazil William D. Pawley, Howard Hughes, Frank Sinatra, Henry Kissinger, Malcolm Forbes, and Jason Winters, 29 years her junior, who the gossip press predicted would be her 9th spouse.
A couple of these men were very generous, especially Todd and Burton.
Big girls need big diamonds.
New husband Todd and a pregnant Liz were vacationing with Evie and Van Johnson at Cap-Ferrat’s Villa Fiorentina when Mike joined Liz in the pool and presented her with a suite of Cartier diamond and Burmese ruby jewelry, including these “ear pendants”. She kissed him, he hugged her, and Evie Johnson recorded the moment for posterity. Ah, the Hollywood life! Todd also gave Liz an antique diamond encrusted tiara, circa 1880, which is estimated to sell for between $60-80,000.
Probably the most famous of Liz’s jewels is the flawless 33.19 carat diamond. Formerly known as the Krupp Diamond, known around the Taylor manse as “My baby.” To the rest of us, it was known as “The Elizabeth Taylor Diamond” and is predicted to garner between $2.5-$3.5 million.
Another gift from Burton was the famous 16th century “La Peregrina” pearl which has a fascinating history. Discovered by an African slave off the coast of the Gulf of Panama (he was freed for the find), the pear-shaped pearl was carried to Spain and given to Philip II, who presented it to his bride, Mary l of England. When she died in 1558, it traveled back to Spain where it remained as part of the crown jewelry for the next 250 years. It was worn by several queens of Austria, France and Spain, and a Duchess in England whose family owned the pearl until it was sold to Richard Burton in 1969 for $37,000. It is estimated now at $2-3 million.
A Valentine’s gift from Dick to Lizzy, the pearl went missing moments after the giving. Taylor loved to tell this story about her famous pearl: “I had recently received the Peregrina on the little chain and I was touching it like a talisman. We had the top floor at Caesar’s Palace and walking back and forth through the room I reached down to touch the pearl and it wasn’t there! I glanced at Richard and thank God he wasn’t looking at me, I went in to the bedroom and buried my head into the pillow and screamed. Very slowly I retraced all my steps in the bedroom in my bare feet. I was walking by the white Pekingese and Richard’s brown Pekingese with all the puppies, it was feeding time and I said ‘Hi babies, such sweet little babies…’ then I noticed one of the puppies chewing on a bone — I thought — we don’t give our puppies bones! I just casually opened the puppy’s mouth and inside was the most perfect pearl in the world — and thank God — not scratched! Richard loved that pearl, anything historic was important to him. This pearl is unique in the world of gems, it’s one of the most extraordinary pieces there is and I knew that he was proud inside. I did finally tell Richard — but I had to wait a week!”
I know how she felt. I recently misplaced a pearl ring I have, but found it tucked securely in a box where it should have been but where I forgot to look. Of course, my pearl may be faux, as the setting is vermeil and sterling, made in Israel and purchased at TJ Maxx.
But I can still dream, can’t I? Although I won’t be dreaming with a Christie’s catalogue in my hands. The complete five-book set of The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor sells for $300. Heck, I could buy a pair of pearl earrings with diamonds at Kay Jewelers for that. I’m sure the quality is top grade, and the price rock bottom.